To build words you first have to craft each letter in this clever factory puzzle game

Small factories producing letters to spell Cat
(Image credit: Star Garden Games)

If you really think about it, the letter L is just the letter I with another letter I lying down in front of it. What's a T? Maybe two letter Ls that have been welded together after being turned upside down? A V is just an I that's leaning over and has been welded together at the bottom with another leaning I, so an X… that's either two Is crossing each other, or maybe two Vs, one flipped upside down and welded together at the pointy bits. Maybe?

That's the concept in puzzle game Word Factori. You have a small factory that can produce the letter I, and using only that letter you have to create words like OX, CAT, and IVY, and then eventually tougher constructions like DOCTOR, VOXEL, and AXOLOTL.

How do you do it with just an I? Well, by running a production line of Is from one factory to the next. There's a factory that will take an I and bend it into a C-shape, which is naturally how you make a C. But if you want to make an O, there's no O factory. 

So you'll have to get two lines of Is running through a C factory, then flip one line horizontally, then weld them together in another factory. C plus backwards C is an O. And things only get more complicated from there.

Hey, it turns out there was an I in TEAM all this time. In fact, there were a whole bunch of them! My coach was completely wrong.

Half of the fun of Word Factori is simply experimenting. It's not always clear what a factory does until you've run some letters through it, and along the way you might discover the recipe for a different letter than you intended. While trying to fabricate an X for the first time, I sent two horizontal Is into a welding factory and instead of crisscrossing them into an X it instead produced an = sign. Which was not only funny, but pretty accurate. An equal sign is, after all, one I lying on top of another I. Making the X properly turned out to be a bit trickier.

Word Factori: Trying to spell ox"

And while it seems like the fun might run out once you've learned the recipe for each of the 26 possible letters, there are additional challenges in Word Factori that limit you to how many and what types of each factory you can use on each level. With some letters having multiple recipes, you'd have to discover the most optimal factory setup to beat each challenge. And with all those factories and conveyor belts and letters whizzing around on your screen, it can get a little hectic at times. 

One bizarre final little detail I enjoy is that when you do successfully complete a word, it starts spitting out a picture of that word rather than the word itself. So if you spell the word duck, your screen will slowly become filled with pictures of a duck instead of the word duck. Weird! But cute. Word Factori is planned for release in August, but there's a free demo on Steam you can (and should) try right now. You know how to spell Steam, right? First, you bend an I… 

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.